Back home, and I checked out the local birding. Tues. The road to Marston from Barkston was closed again and so I diverted through Hough, a little owl was sitting in a tree beside the road giving great views. Marston was heaving with hirundines and swifts. They always gather here if its cold or wet at this time of year, providing quite an astonishing sight at times. There is always a constant supply of flies, sometimes in their billions, forming fly clouds. The birds were taking advantage. Around the entrance to the works the swifts and swallows were flying low-very,very low, whizzing around at great speed, sometimes heading straight at you and coming from behind. I know they’re far too clever to fly into your face, but its slightly unnerving as the swifts fly at you at tremendous speed only to veer just wide at the last second. I kept thinking I was going to lose an eye at any moment. But then they never bump into cattle, or trees, or even big game when they are in Africa. You could hear their wingbeats, even feel the draught, they really were coming that close, within centimetres. Formula 1 birds. It was impossible to get accurate counts but I would estimate c.400 house martin, c.350 swallow, c.150 swift, c.20 sand martin.
Ten yellow wagtails fed on the settling pans. Plenty of warblers now in, including the latest, a garden warbler near the railway bridge. I was chatting to a birder who asked if any water rails were around, “not this time of year” says I. But as soon as the reedbed was reached a water rail squealed loudly, first one I’ve heard for a while. Still no cuckoo.
At Waterwell lane, Ancaster, the corn bunting flock seems to have dispersed. Having peaked at over fifty a couple of weeks ago, there were still 15 today. Red kite, yellow wag, 6 lapwing, oystercatcher, 6 buzzards and 5 grey partridges and plenty of yellowhammers seen.
Weds. Baston pits. Two greenshanks were my first this year, on the corner pit. Six red-crested pochards on the deeper pits. A cuckoo was heard.
Baston fen. Another cuckoo (or same) was singing. A male marsh harrier showed well along with a red kite.
Willow tree fen. Another cuckoo, this one seen well. Four hobbies appeared, stayed and fed for forty mins, then disappeared. Three different marsh harriers seen. Four brightly coloured ruff. Massive shoal of roach in the Glen, thousands of ’em.
Near Boothby. A barn owl and a raven close to the road.